Climbing the 14 Tallest Mountains in Under a Year

map of highest mountains in the world for climbing
All of the 8,000m peaks in the world, all in the Himalayas. Photo Cred: Caingram

After completing Phase I and Phase II of his 14 mountain mission, Nirmal ‘Nims’ Purja has just 3 mountains left before breaking the most impressive record in mountaineering. Nims is a former Gurkha soldier, a group of British-hired Nepalese soldiers who have a reputation of fearlessness. He certainly embodies this reputation as he nears his goal of smashing the existing record. Currently, the record for climbing the 14 highest peaks is nearly 8 years. If he can summit the remaining 3 peaks, circled below, the record is his. No 8,000m (26,246ft) peak is “easy” but the remaining have reputations for being the least technical.

mountains left on Nims climbing expedition
The mountains Nims has yet to climb, circled, & all the mountains he has summited. Photo Cred: Pinterest

His perseverance is incredible. It takes years for most people to summit just one 8,000m peak. His accomplishments come with a long resume: in addition to the incredible achievement of becoming a Gurkha soldier, he did guide and rescue work at high altitudes. This on-mountain experience is key since altitude sickness is the most dangerous threat to mountaineers. Without lots of experience and acclimatization, the human body cannot handle the lack of oxygen at high altitudes. Somehow he has managed to avoid illness and preserve.

oxygen levels at different altitudes makes climbing hard
Somehow Nims has avoided altitude sickness despite limited oxygen. Photo Cred: Elite Surf and Sport

Nims’ biggest obstacle on his mountaineering adventure has been financing. Mountaineering is by no standard cheap; permits, oxygen, equipment, guides, and countless other expenses add up to big sums. He has a GoFundMe and between those donations and fluctuating sponsorships, he has been scathing by financially. This is not stopping him: he plans to finish Phase III in Septemeber by completing the last 3 climbs. Project Possible is at the finish line.

Nims Project Possible, the ultimate climbing edition
Nims’ Project Possible: 14 peaks in 7 months. Photo Cred: GoFundME

The first recorded attempt at an 8,000m peak was in 1895 on Pakistan’s Nanga Parbat. This attempt was thwarted by a deadly avalanche, and it took another 55 years until an expedition successfully submitted Annapurna’s 8,091m peak. Nims is looking to break the world record on climbing all 14 in a single climbing season, but so far has broken the records of:

  • The fastest time between summiting Everest and summiting Lahore.
  • The fastest consecutive summiting of Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu.
  • The first person to summit Everest twice, Lhotse, and Makalu, in the same season.

Oh, and these three records were set during a short leave he had from work. Impressive to say the least.